Antarctica

Week 20 Routine Week - Finish with a Party

27th February - 5th March 2000

I was well into my routine this week. It still has a lot of polishing - especially to reduce the amount of time working, so I can do some personal projects. A usual day for me is up around 5am. I check and answer work emails until breakfast. At the moment the satellite is still up at this time. I like to check the news in Oz. Breakfast with the crew until 7:30. At this time sharp every work morning there is a migration of the FMC people to their jobs. This will leave half a dozen beakers sitting around leisurely drinking coffee discussing how nice it is not to work to a strict time table. We sit around for half an hour talking and working on our reputations of being lazy.

Seating in the galley would make an interesting anthropological study. It is not as noticeable now the winter has started. But in the summer there was a fascinating phenomena known as the power table. Work for FMC starts at 6:30am during summer. There was 4 very important summer supervisors, and a number of 'lower on the pecking order' supervisors. In the galley all the tables run in the same direction, except one - over in a corner. This is the power table. As an example to their workers, these supervisors would get up very early. But some of the workers would try and follow their great example. Which meant the supervisors would get up even earlier. I was surprised they didn't end up on night shift. Every morning the supervisors would have a pre-work day meeting at the power table. Everyone sitting in the same seat every morning. Every so often a fingy would unknowingly sit at the power table. It made my day seeing the unhappy looks of the supervisors. Today the power table was overthrown, and a lounge chair put in its place.

Another status symbol was the green brain. This is a small green note book - US government issue - that fits perfectly into the front pocket of Carharts. Of course anyone that has to take notes all the time must be important. But as the season went on more and more people had one. I finally got given one by a GA (Ta Soni!) at the very end of the season. But now I go no where without my green brain. I couldn't live without it. If someone asks me to do something - I take a note of it. But now that everyone has one it's not much a status symbol.

After breakfast I usual go to Mapo to check that everything is running. We also get requests to do special tasks such as change setting on instruments, and make one off measurements. We are also in the process of doing a huge clean up and re-organisation of our work area. This will take some weeks yet. And one of the nicest things about going to Mapo is that it is outside the Dome. It would be very easy to get Dome fever and not see the last of our quickly dropping Sun.

An interesting job that I was doing in Mapo during the mornings this week was setting up a seismometer for a bloke at LBNL. A seismometer had been attached to one of the AMANDA strings during the summer and put into the ice about a hundred meters from the surface. I was asked to track down the DAS (Data Acquisition System - don't you love science) and start putting it together. The first problem was finding it. I had almost given up hope on it having made it to SP, until I tripped over a box in the stairwell - hmmm, what is in this box? I felt a flood of nostalgia wash over me as I recognised a Ref Tek Seismograph. Then I remembered stinking hot, dusty days digging holes and endless driving. It was still a fond memory - it was a lot of fun. But what are the chances of finding someone working for a high energy astro-physics group, whose previous job was with a seismology group!! And the bloke at LBNL said he knows my old boss Brian quite well.

Lunch is from 12:30 - 1:30PM. Meals times are not set in stone. They are a guide to weather the DA can expect you to clean up very carefully after yourself, and not have any grounds for complaint when they vacuum around you. Also the food gets put away once the official meal time is over. But there is a fridge full of left overs which we can help ourselves to.

In the afternoon I work in BOS (Back of Science), which is inside the Dome. AMANDA has a large bank of computers here where the data is analysed and archived. I change tapes, check logs, and do other routine work. During this last week I was doing a lot of computer hardware maintenance, and building a new computer out of a pile of bits. We can also monitor most of the experiments in Mapo from BOS.

Dinner is from 5:30 until you are finished. After dinner I've been watching a movie, playing cards, or scrabble. BOS is located almost right under my room in upper berthing. So in the evenings I usually walk through and check that everything is working fine. Usually there is a problem, so I'll do an hours work before finishing for the night. One of the hazards of living right over your work.

All this week there has been major activity inside the Dome as cargo brings in endless numbers of palettes of food to be stored around the buildings. During the morning the kitchen staff and cargo unpacked the palettes, and took inventory of what had arrived. After lunch there is a working bee for everyone to help put the food onto the shelves. The trick being that most of us have no idea where it all goes. So we end up looking like soldier ants following each other around in lines carrying food. There was nothing worse than someone guessing wrong, and a line of 10 people walking completely around a building all carrying 20kg of chicken. It has got quite cold, with the temperature well into the -50degC - and that is inside the Dome too. After half an hour of carting food around the hands and face start getting a bit numb. I didn't envy the kitchen and cargo people who spent much more time in the Dome sorting the food than us.

The week was finished by the first long weekend of the winter for ASA employees. The deal is that they get the first Saturday of the month off. This shouldn't make much of a difference to us. But since everyone else starts partying early on Friday, it's hard not to join in. Think I'll spend this next week recovering.

To be continued .......

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